KUALA LUMPUR: MotoGP rookie Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah finished in the points for the first time since the Czech Republic round in August with a fine performance at the Thailand Motorcycle Grand Prix today.
Starting from 18th on the grid at Buriram, Hafizh worked his way up the field to finish 12th. He crossed the line 17.691 seconds behind race winner Marc Marquez, to earn four championship points.
More importantly, he was the fastest newcomer as rookie standings leader Franco Morbidelli was forced to settle for 14th.
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider revealed that he was forced to battle temperature issues early in the race.
"I’m really happy to be back in the points. At the beginning of the weekend, from the first practice until qualifying, I was always in 18th, so I felt a bit disappointed but I never gave up," said Hafizh.
"I was really working hard with the team and they believed in me, which is what I needed. In the beginning of the race, my bike was overheating.
“The oil temperature was too hot and I didn’t feel the power of the bike. I decided not to use any slipstream because the bike was so hot.
"I first passed Takaaki Nakagami and thought I could catch up with Morbidelli, I passed him (Morbidelli) and then I tried to keep the rhythm."
Morbidelli still leads the rookie standings with 33 points but Hafizh is not far off in second with 28 points.
"I still need to work hard in the next rounds and try to get closer to Morbidelli again," added Hafizh.
"We gained two points on him, but it’s still five (points gap) to go, so we have to try to be in front of him for the rest of the season.
"Now we are starting to believe in our capacity, the bike worked well, I chose the right tyre and overall, we were working very well. I’m truly happy."
In Moto2, Finn Niki Tuuli (Petronas Sprinta Racing) did well to win his first point in the championship after coming in 15th while Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) settled for 21st.
Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing) also managed a point in Moto3 after coming in 15th while teammate Ayumu Sasaki crashed out of the race.
Motegi will host the next round on October 19-21.